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Mellon inspired by Stan's bare facts
THE scenes for celebration weren’t typical of a manager whose team had just won promotion.
Usually his assistant and backroom staff are by his side for a jubilant embrace.
But Micky Mellon wasn’t even in the dugout when he realised he had led Fleetwood Town into the Football League for the first time in the club’s history. The Cod Army hadn’t even played.
They had been favourites to win the Blue Square Premier for weeks thanks to an unbeaten run that totalled 29 games. But getting over the line hadn’t proved quite as straightforward as they had hoped after drawing with Wrexham – their nearest challengers – and later Lincoln in a Friday night fixture with just two games to go.
That last point proved enough to clinch the title, and promotion, in the end though, as Wrexham unexpectedly slipped up at home to Grimsby the following day.
The players popped champagne corks on their day out at the Grand National when the result came in.
Ex-Claret Mellon, however, was in more modest surroundings, having avoided the temptation to keep a radio glued to his ear from 3 o’clock onwards.
“I didn’t even know. My sister was visiting for the weekend with her daughters and they were at a caravan park in Blackpool. Very glam!” he smiled.
“I went into the clubhouse on the site and looked at the score, saw Wrexham were drawing 2-2 with Grimsby, and then my phone started to ring.”
The circumstances of their success were irrelevant. Promotion had been earned through the efforts of a whole season, added to the work Mellon had done over the last four years.
“It’s what we wanted to try to do. I don’t think you can plan in football but it’s something that we wanted to do and to do as quickly as possible.
“To get into the Football League is such a massive achievement,” said the Scot, who only turned full-time in 2009 after previously combining his first managerial job with a coaching role in Burnley’s Centre of Excellence.
“It was becoming too much because this job was becoming more demanding and taking up more of my time as it was getting bigger and the squad was getting bigger.
“The chairman wanted us to go full-time so there was no chance that I could do both.
“But I loved my time at Burnley as a player and coach. It’s a fantastic football club.”
He believes he had a fantastic manager too.
“In my opinion Stan Ternent is one of the best in the business. That guy’s forgotten more about football than most of us know,” said former midfielder Mellon.
“I had a really good conversation with him on the phone the other morning.
“He’s always great conversation and great company.
“I still call him the gaffer. I wouldn’t like to not call him that!
“He’s a magnificent guy and a top manager and I’m delighted that I’ve still got his number in my phone and whenever I need anything I don’t hesitate in calling him.”
He added: “He has a clear way of managing people. He’s very disciplined and he knows how to manage a football club, from top to bottom. Players want to do well for him, because they know that when you sign for him he wants you to do well.
“I bring a lot of that ethos to this football club.
“He was a top, top manager.”
And Ternent was one of the big reasons behind former Blackpool and Tranmere man Mellon dropping a division to sign at Turf Moor.
“I wouldn’t have done that for any other club than Burnley if I’m honest,” he said.
“I knew the gaffer knew how to get promotions because he’d done so well at Bury.
“I knew that with the chairman, Mr Kilby, their ambition was massive and I didn’t hesitate after I spoke to them that that was the place I wanted to play.”
Mellon was confident he was taking one step back to move forward again. And since going up to the second tier of English football in 2000, as runners-up to Preston North End, Burnley have never looked back.
“We had a great team; guys now that if you mentioned their name to anybody you would know them – Steve Davis, Kevin Ball, Paul Cook, Lenny Johnrose, Glen Little. You ask anyone in football about those guys and they would be able to tell you who they are,” he said.
“We had a real good team and a real strong dressing room with John Mullin, Chris Brass, Mitchell Thomas, Ian Wright of course.
“It was a good bit of management from the club and the chairman to give the manager the backing to get someone like that (Wright) and give us the momentum to carry on because suddenly we got crowds at training, which wasn’t something that happened a lot.
“It was a real good time and again he was a guy that fitted in absolutely perfectly.”
He added: “We had some real good players but more than that we were good friends and that’s something that I try to instil here.
“Even though players aren’t going to be best friends I’ll make sure that they try to get on and respect each other.
“Certainly that’s what that dressing room was all about.”
It says much about their ability as players that many of them have gone on to coach or, like Mellon, manage.
“I still see them. They are all over the place,” said the Fleetwood boss.
“The manager of the time looked for that type of person because in a lot of ways that team did manage itself on and off the pitch, but we were encouraged to do that by the manager.
“We had 11 captains. That’s probably the best way to put it.
“We knew we had a responsibility to each other to do well.”
Mellon credits Ternent not only with enhancing their playing careers, but also pointing them in the right direction for when the time came to hang their boots up.
The 40-year-old feels he has adopted some of his ethos into his own management style.
But there is one element he is refusing to mimic.
“He’s the first and only manager I’ve known that would actually tell you off naked!” he said.
“Being yelled and screamed at by the manager standing there naked is certainly one of the strangest things. You could never get used to it but you knew it was going to happen.
“I kept my eyes on his and never looked down. If it was for that reason to make sure you never looked anywhere else it certainly did the trick!
“That’s not something I’ve tried in management, and I don’t intend in getting involved in that side of it.
“But it certainly had an impact, if that's not the wrong choice of words?!”
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